Journal: Revisit The Height Of DTM Touring Car Racing With This Period-Correct Footage At The Nürburgring

Revisit The Height Of DTM Touring Car Racing With This Period-Correct Footage At The Nürburgring

Alex Sobran By Alex Sobran
April 3, 2019

The touring car racing that took place between the mid 1980s and the early 1990s was some of the best in the world, and especially in Germany. The Group A-based era of the DTM—from 1984 to 1992—saw an international cadre of factory-backed and outright works teams competing in front of crowds that rivaled grand prix attendance, with grids made up of a considerably faster group of cars than was competing in any other touring car championship at the time.

Almost all of the cars that defined the DTM back then have aged gracefully into youngtimer collector status today, and although the modern bewinged and canard-covered Audis and Mercs and Bimmers from the most recent championship season are far more technologically impressive than their predecessors, able-brained enthusiasts will agree that the first decade of DTM competition was the definitive one, the golden era to which all others are compared. The cars could take a hit without having to limp to the pits, and they still resembled their road-going counterparts (even when you went beneath the bodywork). Homologation specials like BMW’s first M3 and the Cosworth-engined Merc 190Es have become iconic sport sedans of their time for good reason.

The greatest thing about the series though was how competitive and active it was—even if you don’t like the big fiberglass wings and boxy lines, close, door-banging racing makes for great entertainment. Everyone who’s chosen a team to root for likes to pretend that that car was the one that dominated, but in the ten-year period between 1984 and 1993 the driver championships were earned using seven unique manufacturers: Volvo, Rover, BMW, Ford, Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Alfa Romeo.

The DTM began to decline in competitiveness and participation in 1993 without the BMW or Audi works teams participation. The FIA had introduced a more liberal “Class 1” rulebook for the new season, and over the next few years lost participants in large part because of increased development costs adding to a general financial equation that made less and less sense until the series went dormant after the 1996 season until reemerging in 2000 in a new format once again. That’s not to say anything negative about the car that dominated the new format in 1993—Alfa’s 155 V6 TI, also the most winning DTM car of all time—but 1992 was the ultimate evolution of the original DTM. With Audi having been penalized for a trick crankshaft design and quitting halfway through the 1992 season as a result, Mercedes-Benz continued to develop the Evolution II version of the 190E and handily won the driver’s and manufacturer’s championships—the top three driver rankings at the end of the year all drove Evo IIs.

I’ll be testing out a new weekly series on vintage automotive videos in the coming months, and thought the one embedded above would be a good place to start. It’s coverage from both heats of round six of the 1992 season, and takes place of the full Nordschleife with in-car views, chopper shots, and pit access. I don’t expect everyone to watch the full 54 minutes, but I did, twice, and picked out some “highlights” for you below (click the time stamps to be linked to the section):

Over the coming weeks we’ll be revisiting some of our favorite vintage race footage, commercials, and more—if you have any recommendations, don’t be shy!

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abarth595Nikola Dume Recent comment authors
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I thought it was Rich Hall commentating!

Nikola Dume

Beautiful, I will watch the whole thing as if it is live.